Sanders Defeats Clinton In Decisive Victory In New Hampshire Democratic Primary

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Democrat Bernie Sanders addresses his supporters after winning the New Hampshire primary. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
Democrat Bernie Sanders addresses his supporters after winning the New Hampshire primary. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders won the Democratic primary in New Hampshire Tuesday night, by a resounding margin of 60 to 38 percent with 88 percent of precincts reporting.

Sanders has come a long way in what was once thought to be a long-shot bid for the presidency, but now he’ll be playing against Hillary Clinton on a much larger field.

For Sanders, it was a moment to savor, as he took the podium at a Concord high school gym before hundreds of devoted supporters and claimed victory in the Granite State.

“Tonight we served notice to the political and economic establishment of this country that the American people will not continue to accept a corrupt campaign finance system that is undermining American democracy,” Sanders said.

At her rally in Hooksett, Clinton’s remarks sounded almost like a victory speech too, as she worked her way through her well-honed messages. And she acknowledged some of the weaknesses in her competition with Sanders.

“I know I have some work to do now, particularly with young people,” she said. “But I will repeat again what I have said this week: Even if they are not supporting me now, I support them.”

Democrat Hillary Clinton speaks to supporters after conceding the New Hampshire primary to Bernie Sanders. (Joe Difazio for WBUR)

Democrat Hillary Clinton speaks to supporters after conceding the New Hampshire primary to Bernie Sanders. (Joe Difazio for WBUR)

Sanders’ victory was propelled by dogged organizing, sophisticated social media pitches and dozens of appearances in New Hampshire, just across the Connecticut River from his home state of Vermont.

But above all, it was his single-minded message about the big guy verse the little guy, and making Wall Street pay for its ways, that resonated with voters, and not just the young.

“I just like his overall message, I think he’s also going to be much more interested in domestic affairs instead of foreign affairs,” said 85-year-old Leo Cauchon, who voted in Durham on Tuesday. “I’d love to get some of the boys back home. But I also think one thing he might do is put Glass-Steagall back in, and I think that would eliminate a lot of problems.”

The Glass-Steagall Act limited the reach of commercial banks in the U.S. Cauchon was brought to the polls in Durham by his daughter, Claudia Cauchon. She’s a Clinton supporter.

“You know, more experience. She had her time in Congress and being secretary of state,” Claudia Cauchon said. “And I think she can take it when the general election comes. I don’t know if Bernie will be ready for what they are going to throw at him. Because right now, Republicans would love for Bernie to be in there to go against them. Hillary will be ready for, well, they’ve already been slinging mud at her anyways.”

That family disagreement shows the kind of divide that could characterize the Sanders-Clinton race going forward, as it moves into a season of rapid-fire primaries and caucuses. Many of them are in states to the south and west that polls and pundits say may be more favorable to Clinton.

Sanders’ top strategist, Tad Devine, insisted Tuesday night that Sanders would be competitive in the upcoming South Carolina and Nevada primaries. He also noted that Sanders would begin to advertise in four new markets: Oklahoma, Colorado, Minnesota and Massachusetts.

“We think there’s great opportunity to succeed in Massachusetts. We think Massachusetts is a great place for Bernie and his message,” Devine said. “We’ve televised in the most expensive market there now for over three months, so we’ve been introduced to people in Boston, and now we’re going to spread that the rest of the state, and Providence and Springfield.”

That could signal a strategy similar to one that former Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis employed after the New Hampshire primary in 1988, running up delegate counts in states outside the deep south, including in Colorado, Minnesota and Massachusetts.

But first, Sanders will have to get through the early southern state voting, and South Carolina in particular, where Sanders could face his toughest fight yet.

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